I spent this past weekend in Montpelier, Vermont, for the Green Mountain Film Festival‘s 48-Hour Film Slam. In fact, E and I came home from Hawai’i in part to participate in this event.
Why was the 48-Hour Film Slam so important to us? And what the heck is a 48-Hour Film Slam, anyway?
A 48-Hour Film Slam is an event where teams of filmmakers come together to write, film, edit, and premiere a short movie (in this case, 7 minutes or less) over the course of a weekend.
This film slam was important to us because it’s the third in which I’ve participated, and the fourth in which E has participated. Film Slamming (as no one but me ever calls it) has become something of a traditions for us. We’re getting to know many of the other teams who participate, it’s a fun way to spend a weekend, and we walk away with a finished film project. I mentioned in my wrap-up post for 2012, This Time Last Year, that we participated in the Green Mountain Film Festival’s 48-Hour Film Slam last year (and won second place!), and I shared a link to our movie in that post.
If you follow me on twitter (you should!), you’ve already read the abridged telling of this most recent Slam, but here’s a more detailed explanation of how it works, and what we created.
On Friday night, at 6:00pm, the teams gathered to officially kick off the Film Slam. Team captains drew movie genres out of a hat, and had the option to keep what they drew or forfeit their first genre and draw again. Our team drew crime drama, and despite being more of a comedic bunch, we decided to stick with it.
Aside from film length (7 minutes or less with 45 seconds for credits) and genre, there are a few other Film Slam requirements. Every team must work a particular location, prop, and line of dialogue into their film. This year, the required location was the Dairy Creme on Route 2, a seasonal ice cream parlor, the prop was a film reel (ours was a trailer for Silver Linings Playbook), and the line of dialogue was, “Is this your idea of a good time?!”
With this information, the teams set out to look around the required location, and create a film concept. Our writers, E and Eric, were up until 3:00 am crafting our crime drama, and, in the morning, E and I came up with a list of shots we needed to film that day.
Saturday consisted of a snow storm, and a lot of outdoor filming.
Finally, at 10:30 pm, E was able to begin the arduous process of editing the film together. A few of our teammates headed out to the grocery store to buy Stouffer’s Mac & Cheese and microwaveable burritos so that E wouldn’t starve while staying up until 3:00 am for the second night in a row.
On Sunday, after oversleeping (oops…), we seemed to be on track to finish our movie only to receive a phone call at 11:00 am from the front desk of the motel saying, “aren’t you checking out?” The Green Mountain Film Festival was paying for our motel stay, but had failed to come to an agreement with the staff about how the filmmakers would be able to keep editing until their 6:00 pm deadline.
In case you’re unfamiliar with how editing works, it’s a touchy process that requires a lot of time and computer memory. Sometimes Final Cut Pro crashes because it’s dealing with such a large volume of material, sometimes your external hard-drive becomes unplugged and your computer no longer knows what footage it’s working with, and no matter what, it takes a long time to export a finished product. E joked that it’s really a 45-Hour Film Slam because you need to leave yourself at least three hours to export and copy your film over onto a flashdrive for the projectionist. Teams regularly arrive at the Sunday night film premiere with their computers still copying over their projects.
We paid for another night at the EconoLodge, finished editing, and arrived at the premiere in plenty of time. We didn’t win this year, but we’re still very proud of our movie: The Wakely Conspiracy. You can watch it below.
And if you’re interested in seeing how stiff our competition was, this is the first prize winning film: The Hard Reboot (a sports comedy).
Have you ever done any competitive filmmaking? I directed “The Wakely Conspiracy,” but I also have a few small cameos, can you spot me?